(De)criminalizing queer lives

Viewing through a postcolonial optic

Authored by: Ratna Kapur

The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138931176
eBook ISBN: 9781315679891
Adobe ISBN: 9781317395553


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In this chapter I problematize sexual rights interventions in law and human rights advocacy through a postcolonial critically queer lens. I start with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy in India and the legal rollercoaster ride it has gone through in recent years. The focus of the advocacy has been on curtailing the scope of section 377 in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, that criminalizes sodomy so that it no longer applies to adult consensual sexual relations. The provision is a remnant of British colonialism that made sodomy a crime even between consenting adults and is contrary to the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Yogyakarta Principles). 1 Today, somewhat paradoxically, section 377 is embraced as a part of Indian cultural values.

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